DQMW FF Ch. 1

Michaela looked out of the window of the jostling stage coach at the mountains that were coming into view. Her stomach had been twisted in a knot since she stepped off the train in Denver. Her journey had taken her clear across the country, and although she had heard descriptions of the "west" it was almost shocking to see it with her own eyes. The streets were dirt, unlike the cobblestone she was accustomed to. It was obvious that there had been a good amount of rain, because the dirt had turned to a thick mud. She was amazed at how no one seemed phased by the muck. The whole town appeared to be the same color, due to the layer of dust that settled on everything in its path. She was jolted out of her daydream as the stage bounced over a log in the road. Michaela had never been so battered. She felt as if her insides were going to bounce out of her skin at any moment. Trying desperately to get comfortable she concentrated on the landscape as it passed. Colorado was beautiful. There was no doubt about that, and as they neared her new home she felt a little like a child discovering a new place. She was startled to see a small group of Indians as they passed. Despite what she had been taught by her father; that all people deserved to be treated in the same way, without prejudice, they made her nervous. She had heard tales that the Indians were a savage group that did horrific things to people on the frontier. But knowing how even the people back home had once talked of the slaves in the same manner, she wondered if they were just misunderstood. This was one of the things Michaela loved most about her father; his kind heart towards people of all races and creeds. And she was glad to have been taught such tolerance.

Although her mother had not approved, Michaela felt like she had to get out on her own. After her father's passing she just couldn't stand to be in Boston anymore. "Boston…" she thought. "Father would have wanted me to continue on without him. That's just not an option in Boston."

You see, Michaela was a Doctor. Her father was a physician and from a young age had fashioned her as his apprentice. Now that he was dead there was nowhere for her to work save the poor house. And although Michaela devoted much of her time there, she couldn't make a living that way. No, she had to set out on her own. This is how she ended up in Colorado. She had answered an advertisement calling for Doctors needed in the small frontier town of Colorado Springs. After receiving a surprisingly quick and positive response she left her home and everyone she knew to set out on a new adventure. Her mother had begged for her not to go, saying that the frontier was an uncivilized place full of savages. But, Michaela had her mind set. So she bought a ticket on the first train out of Boston headed for St. Louis.

The stage rolling into town brought Michaela's mind back to the present and she shook away her nerves. If she was going to survive she would have to have her wits about her. She surveyed the small town and was pleased to see that there was a general store at least, and was thankful that she wouldn't have to ride to the next town for supplies. As she dismounted the stage she could feel the looks of several townspeople who were no doubt taking in her Boston apparel. Michaela made a note to buy new clothes as soon as possible. It had never occurred to her that her clothing just wouldn't be practical out here. She stepped out of the stage into a mud filled street. Wearing her best shoes had no doubt been a mistake. But, Michaela was determined not to look like a prissy lady from Boston. She needed to earn the townspeople's respect if she was to be their doctor. So, she took a deep breath and stepped up onto the porch of the general store. She turned and was faced with a grouchy older man who was no doubt the store owner.

"Pardon me. Where might I find Reverend Johnson?" she asked.

"Down at the church." He replied while giving her a once over. Loren had lived in Colorado Springs for most of his adult life, and he had never seen a woman like her. She appeared to be alone and Loren found himself wondering what a lady like her was doing way out here unchaperoned. He circled her wondering what she could possibly be doing here.

"May I leave my luggage there for just a little while?" She asked

"You mean, will it still be there when you get back?" Loren snarkily replied

"No, I was just…" she tried to explain

"We're not all thieves on the frontier miss." Loren said enjoying the way he made her squirm.

"No, of course not, I was just concerned that it might be in someone's way." She replied calmly

"Nope" Loren replied with a shake of his head.

Without realizing it, Michaela had already gathered an audience. Everywhere she looked people seemed to be staring at her, and she wasn't sure that she enjoyed the attention. However, determined to get settled as soon as possible she made her way towards the church to find the reverend. As she walked down the street, holding up her skirt to keep it out of the mud as much as possible, she passed the saloon. Michaela was astonished to see the girls that worked there out front in practically nothing at all. Refocusing herself she marched towards the bridge that led to the church. There were Soldiers crawling every inch of town, and as Michaela crossed the bridge she could see why. They had set up camp in the meadow and appeared to be having some sort of discussion with a large group of Indians. She continued on towards the Church, bound and determined to seek out her lodging so that she could change and take a much needed bath.

Sully had been mediating talks between the Cheyenne and Colonel Chivington for days. He was growing more and more agitated as the days went on realizing that the Army had no intentions of giving the Cheyenne a fair deal. Sully recognized that he had to clear his head if he was going to be any help to his friends. So, he set up on the outskirts of town under an old oak tree to meditate. The spirits would help guide him towards the best path.

Sully had been in Colorado Springs for close to ten years. The better part of which he worked in a silver mine just outside of town. Four years ago he had come in to town to get supplies at Brays Mercantile, where he met Abigail, Loren's daughter. Abby was much younger than Sully. At least 8 years, but she was sweet and made a special effort to help him while he was in the store. Sully, not used to outright attention from a female, and not one for a lot of words, grew to like her efforts. Abby would chatter on about everyone in town while Sully nodded every once in a while to show that he was in fact listening. Unbeknownst to Sully, Abigail had been promised to a young man named Martin Anderson. Loren had made plans for the two to marry so that Martin could take over the store. Abigail knew that her father wanted her to be with Martin, but she didn't love him. She never thought that he would force her to marry him.

After months of conversation with Sully Abigail had decided that she wanted to marry him. Loren forbid it, so Abby ran. Abby arrived at the mining camp as dusk was falling. She was out of breath and frantic. Sully heard the commotion outside of his tent and went out to find her wide eyed and hair flying about.

"Abby? What in the world are you doin out here?" He asked, knowing that it was getting dark and she wouldn't have time to make it back to town.

Abby suddenly felt self-conscious for coming. He had never said how he felt about her, and she wasn't sure what he would do when she told him what she wanted. "I… I needed to see you. Can we talk somewhere?"

"uh, sure" sully replied glancing around at the rough men who were eyeing the vulnerable young girl. "Come on" he said as he guided her into his tent, and waited for her to continue.

Abby felt goose bumps rise on her arms as he touched the small of her back. It felt so natural for her to be near him. She opened her mouth to speak, but a sob poured out instead. Not sure what to do, or what was appropriate in this situation, Sully put a hand on her back to try and calm her. Abby took this as a sign and buried her face in his chest. She cried for what seemed like forever before looking up at Sully's face. Sully felt his heart tighten at the vision of the distraught young woman before him. He had never realized how truly beautiful and grown up she had become. Her long coal black hair shimmered in the faint light coming from a lantern on a nearby table, and her tear filled eyes were beckoning him in. It had been a long time since Sully had been with a woman, and he couldn't help the need to be near her. He was snapped out of his reverie as she babbled on about her father forcing her to marry Martin. Sully could feel his mind becoming foggy. What did she want him to do about it?

"wait, Abby slow down a minute. Your pa's makin you marry Martin Anderson? Then why are ya here? What's a matter?" he asked delicately.

"I… well… I thought that you could… well we've become good friends right? I mean… I really like you… and I thought that you… well, that you liked me too. Don't you Sully?" She asked hopefully

"Well, yea. I guess I do. You've been real nice to me since I got here, and I've grown to like our talks." Sully replied, still unsure where this was headed.

"Then you'll marry me?" Abby squealed.

Obviously Sully had missed part of their conversation, and he could feel his chest tightening.

"Marry ya? Well… I guess I hadn't thought much about it." He sputtered

Abagail could tell that he was caught off guard, so she tried to ease his mind. "We wouldn't have to get married right away. We could just be courtin for a while. Then get married. That way my pa could get to know ya." Abby smiled innocently and continued to rattle on.

Sully wasn't so sure Loren was going to be happy with this new change of plans. But, as Sully started to wrap his mind around it, he didn't like the thought of Abby being with someone that didn't make her happy. He had grown to care for her greatly, and the thought of her being with someone else suddenly made his stomach knot. This must be what love feels like. Sully thought.

"ok" he whispered.

"What did you just say?" Abby exclaimed.

"I said ok. I'll do it." He replied looking into her dark eyes that held so much hope for him.

"Oh Sully, you've made me so happy! We can go back to town in the morning and tell my Pa!" Abby threw her arms around his neck and kissed him square on the lips.

Sully was shocked, but didn't pull away. Her kiss was so innocent and he couldn't help but smile at how sweet she was. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her to his lips again. This time the kiss was more forceful and Abby gasped into his mouth as a shiver shot down her spine. She thought to herself that she was the luckiest girl alive if she got to spend the rest of her life with kisses like that!

Sully pulled away and told her to settle in his tent. He would share with his friend Daniel for the night. After another chaste kiss Sully left her to rest.

Needless to say, Loren did not take to the news well. He thought that his daughter was much too good to marry some miner. What could he offer her? He had no home, no money, and no stability. After a much heated argument where Loren called Sully every name he could think of, he forbid Abagail to ever see Sully again. Once again, Abagail ended up at Sully's tent crying her eyes out. By this time Sully had become accustomed to the idea of her being his wife, and took offense to Loren's insinuation that he was no good for her.

"Let's just go to Denver" he said heatedly

"What?" Abagail asked nervously.

"Let's elope. We can get married and then come back. He'll have to accept it then. You're old enough. You don't need is permission" Sully explained.

Abagail was touched by the sentiment. She had thought that Sully only went along with things because he felt sorry for her. But he really wanted to marry her, and that caused her stomach to flutter. Without thinking on it any further she replied on impulse. "Let's do it!"

In a whirlwind Sully and Abigail were married. When they returned to Colorado Springs a week later, the town was a buzz. Loren had been devastated when Abigail disappeared. In a drunken rage he organized a search party, determined to find her before she was "violated". After 3 days and no sign of her, Loren had locked himself in the upstairs apartment of the store to avoid the gossiping stares of the town. When Sully and Abigail came into town riding the same horse Loren's wife Maude gleefully came running up the stairs. Loren had already seen the spectacle that was gathering outside, and his ire was rising in his throat. Before Maude knew what he was doing he stormed down the stairs and out the front door.

"What in tarnation do you think yer doin with my little girl?" Loren stormed at Sully.

Sully knew this would be difficult, but he was determined to show the Bray's that he was a suitable match for their daughter.

"She's my wife" Sully said plainly.

"No she aint. She aint old enough. She's a child…" Loren stammered. He felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach. "She's supposed to marry Martin in a month." For the first time Loren turned his gaze towards his daughter, and realized that she was indeed old enough and hadn't been forced into anything. "How could you do this to me?" Loren spat.

"Papa please…" Abby tried to soothe the old man.

"I don't even know you. My daughter never would have done this. I never wanna see you again." He hawked. Loren felt ashamed and beaten, and the whole town was there to witness it. He stormed past his wife back into the store and promptly closed the door.

Abigail ran to her mother sobbing. "It's all right child. You know how your pa is. I want ya to be happy. Does he make ya happy?" She asked nodding towards Sully.

"Yes, mama. He truly does." She replied fighting back another round of tears.

"Well, here. I want the two of ya to have this. It's a parcel of land that belonged to my father. It's not too far from town. You build ya a nice house, and don't worry about your pa, he'll come around. He's just surprised is all." Maude said woefully. Truth be told she didn't know if her husband would ever get over this. He was a proud man, and couldn't stand to be embarrassed, least wise in front of the whole town. This would be the talk for some time.

"Don't you worry Mrs. Bray. I'll take good care of her. I promise." Sully said assertively.

Maude had always liked Sully, and she could see in his eyes that he had a kind soul. She trusted that he would take care of her little girl the best he could.

"Y'all go on now. I'll see ya soon" She said trying her best to be supportive.

Sully built Abigail a cabin on the land given to them by her mother and within 3 months she was pregnant. With every day that passed Sully found himself more and more enamored with his young wife. She was so keen to make him happy, and he loved the sight of her pregnant with his child. Sully had never thought much on having children before, but now that he could see his baby growing within his radiant wife he felt overcome with a sense of completion. This is what life was for.

The only problem was that Loren still wanted nothing to do with them, and Abigail grew more and more morose by the day. Abby had secluded herself to the homestead, refusing to go into town for anything. Charlotte Cooper was the local midwife and had been around on several occasions to check on her and the baby. Abigail would always hold out hope that she had some news from her father, but alas Charlotte never could relieve that burden. But, Charlotte held out hope that once the baby arrived it would bring Abby out of her melancholy mood.

Sully did his best to prepare for the baby despite his wife's decreasing interest. He set to building a cradle and rocking horse that their child could use. And the day they had long awaited finally came. Abby had been pacing the homestead for hours without a sound. When she finally gave the nod for Sully to take her to Charlotte, he was relieved to be able to do something besides wait. As Sully pulled the wagon up to the boarding house he knew something was wrong. Abby had started screaming just outside of town. He rushed into the house before helping Charlotte out to the wagon. Abby was sitting in a pool of blood. Her face was greyed, and Sully couldn't tell if she was breathing. Charlotte jumped into action and could tell that this was beyond her expertise. "we need to get her to a doctor. I don't think I can help her" Sully hopped up planting his feet firmly on the buckboard as he drove the horse towards Denver. It would take at least 3 hours if Sully pushed the horse the whole way, and he could feel a lump forming in his throat. They weren't gonna make it.

"Abby, I need ya to push honey. Ya gotta push that baby out or you're gonna bleed ta death. Now roll over and get on all fours. It'll make it easier for the baby to come" Charlotte whispered as the wagon bumped along the sun lit road. She received a slight nod from her patient and helped her move onto her stomach.

Suddenly Sully heard his wife shriek in pain. He knew that giving birth was hard, but he felt like something wasn't right. He urged the horse on and tried his best to concentrate on the road ahead.

Charlotte caught the baby and knew instantly that she was gone. The baby had a blue hue that told her that she had been strangled by the umbilical cord. Charlotte gently wrapped her in a blanket as a tear slipped down her cheek. Abby had collapsed onto her back and was shaking. Charlotte looked up from the infant's face to Abby and realized that she was losing her too. Abigail was hemorrhaging blood profusely. Charlotte began massaging Abby's stomach to get the uterus to contract so that it would naturally stop the bleeding. The life was draining out of her face and Charlotte felt helpless to stop it.

Sully stopped suddenly when he felt a hand on his arm. He looked around hopefully, but was met with Charlotte's tear stained face.

"Sully, I'm sorry. They're both gone. There was nuthin I could do. It was a little girl…" Charlotte hung her head as he jumped down from the seat.

Without another thought Sully dropped to his knees and let out a heart breaking cry. He pulled his wife's lifeless hand to his lips and sobbed uncontrolled into her lifeless chest. He looked over to see his baby lying peacefully in her arm, and another wave of pain overtook him. He picked her up and cradled her to his chest as a wail escaped his lips.

Charlotte waited until Sully calmed before turning the wagon around and heading back towards town. As they pulled into town Sully timidly asked Charlotte to stop just outside of town. Charlotte complied and knew by the look in his eye that he needed to be alone. She nodded for him to go and as she turned the wagon towards the small town.

Sully walked in a daze. In a matter of hours his life had come to an end. All of the plans he had made were ruined. Without realizing it he walked to the homestead. As he pushed the door open he collapsed under the weight of the days event.

Charlotte took the mother and child to Jake Slicker's. He was the undertaker and would be taking care of everything. As Charlotte stepped out of the barber shop she glanced towards the general store and saw Loren sweeping the front porch. She inhaled a deep breath and stepped towards him. Without a word Loren knew what had happened. The look on Charlotte's face told the story clearly. "And the child?" Loren choked out. Charlotte opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. All she could do was shake her head, and turned towards the boarding house and her own children.

That evening Charlotte waited outside the homestead for Sully to emerge, and after an hour she began to worry. She had knocked several times, but with no answer thought that perhaps he wasn't there. She had seen it on several occasions where the husband couldn't bear the agony and would take his own life. Slipping inside the front door quietly she allowed her eyes to adjust before stepping in further. She scanned the room, not seeing him at first. She heard a stifled sob and narrowed her eyes to see him huddled in the corner of the room with his knees pulled up under his chin and his face in his hands.

Sully felt as though his heart had been ripped out of his chest. His head was swirling with thoughts of what he could have done to prevent this. Maybe he shouldn't have married Abigail at all. Her parents would never forgive him. How could he ever forgive himself? He was responsible for this young woman. He had gotten her into this whole mess after all. Quivering, he started when Charlotte touched his arm. The feel of bile in that back of his throat foretold that he would be sick and he scrambled out of the tiny cabin. After expelling the contents of his stomach beside the porch Sully ran. He wasn't sure where he was going, but he had to get as far away from that house as he could.

The following days passed in a tumultuous fever. Sully couldn't bring himself to face Abigail's family, and so he left it to Charlotte to take care of the arrangements. He wandered through the woods for two days before showing up on the steps of the boarding house. Charlotte informed him that the funeral would be the next day, and Sully silently wondered whether he should go. Charlotte could feel his sorrow and tried to dispel some of his guilt.

"Sully, you know it aint your fault. There was nothing that coulda been done. Even a doctor would have had trouble savin em. You can't blame yourself." Charlotte acquiesced.

"If I hadn't a married her, this never would have happen..." he started before calming his emotions. "Thanks for everything. You're a true friend and I want ya to know that I appreciate everything ya did to save my wife and daughter. We were gonna name her Hannah." Sully choked out. He suddenly felt like he was suffocating and stepped off the porch and into the night air before Charlotte could respond.

As the crowd dispersed from the petite graveyard Sully stepped out of the woods. He knelt if front of the newly dug graves and placed a fist full of flowers on each one before he spoke.

"Abby, I'm sorry. I don't know what to do without you. I can't be here right now, but I promise I'll be back. I'll come every week when I'm here. I'll always love you, and Hannah. I'll think about you every day, and hold you in my heart forever."

Sully was pulled out of his memory by the sound of his name being called in Cheyenne. He was needed. He shook off the dense cloud that had settled around him and headed towards the meadow.